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Forrester says SOA tools slow to arrive

Money can't buy you love, as the old song says, and it also can't buy a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based analyst firm.

"Today's service-oriented infrastructure landscape looks like a plate of spaghetti," asserts a report authored by Forrester analysts Ted Schadler, Charles Rutstein and Robert Whiteley. The trio's research found more than 25 vendors working on comprehensive SOA solutions, but the authors concluded that in the current stage of Web services evolution, available packaged toolsets are "incompatible, overlapping, and often conflicting."

Eventually, the Forrester analysts said that proficient toolsets will emerge from major vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, BEA and Sun; however, they cautioned IT managers that it may take until 2006 before "complete and comprehensive" products begin shipping.

In the meantime, organizations seeking to take advantage of SOA can focus on building what the Forrester analysts refer to as "domain-specific XML networks -- defined as 'middleware to host or control Web services and SOAP message traffic.'"

With no comprehensive product available, organizations are either going to have to build their own XML-based infrastructure or turn to smaller vendors to fill in the gaps in the major vendor products, the analysts conclude.

As an example of the build-your-own approach, the Forrester analysts note: "When Merrill Lynch wanted to access its core transactions as Web services, it was forced to build X4ML -- XML for Merrill Lynch -- to securely bind SOAP messages to its MQSeries messaging backbone."

For organizations that decide to buy their way out of the SOA dilemma, the Forrester analysts have identified 16 firms that they believe have the expertise to fill the gaps in current offerings from the major vendors.

For SOA infrastructure, Forrester suggests IT development managers turn to smaller vendors like Systinet and Cape Clear for help. For SOA systems management tools, Forrester suggests early adopters evaluate tools from start-ups like Blue Titan and AmberPoint, though they expect those firms to face long-term competition from established software makers such as IBM Tivoli, Hewlett-Packard, Computer Associates, Microsoft and BMC Software.

For XML accelerators, Forrester points to start-ups like DataPower and Sarvega for XML processing and message-based security, but predicts that Cicso and Nortel Networks will eventually take over that area.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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